Facebook just announced that they've hit one billion monthly active users. As a part of that milestone, the company also told us that in the last three and a half years (approximately), Facebook users have hit the "like" button over 1.13 trillion times.
Let that sink in for a second. 1.13 trillion likes. With that kind of cultural dominance, the "like" has become a universal emotion, sometimes divorced from any other tangible human emotion. People "like" an engagement announcement that same way they "like" a funny picture. With Facebook users liking billions of posts every day, maybe the "like" has lost its punch? Does a "like" really mean anything anymore?
What if a like could translate into a physical hug? That way, when you "liked" your sister's baby photo from across the country, she could feel your "like," and it may just feel a little bit more like love.
That's the idea behind the Like-A-Hug, a project from Melissa Chow, Andy Payne, and Phil Seaton of the MIT Media Lab.
"Like-A-Hug is a wearable social media vest that allows for hugs to be given via Facebook, bringing us closer despite physical distance. The vest inflates when friends 'Like' a photo, video, or status update on the wearer's wall, thereby allowing us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs. Hugs can also be sent back to the original sender by squeezing the vest and deflating it," says the project site.
Check out the concept below:
All that stuff about "likes" turning into love and meaning something is nice, but it's doubtful that you could get that many people to wear an inflatable vest in public. Of course, the idea is probably not going to translate into an actual product - but that wasn't really the point.
"Connecting it to Facebook conceptually was simply a way to explore how social media might push past the traditional graphic user interface (GUI)," says Chow.
Plus, nothing beats a real hug.